Many companies like yours are experiencing lackluster results due to outdated wellness policies and practices. Find out what the new trends in wellness programming are and lead your company to increased employee wellness and a healthier bottom line.
Has your wellness program gone cold? You know, has face to face genuine interaction been replaced by telephone coaching? Have fitness and health classes been replaced by dvd’s and Youtube videos? Has your wellness program lost the enthusiasm of the audience? If you’ve answered yes, then you are most likely experiencing a reduction in your wellness program’s effectiveness, leading to a lackluster ROI. Truthfully, it’s probably a matter of time before your wellness program fades to gray and into the abyss of failed initiatives.
Unless you make a change.
It should be no secret. The best wellness programs are comprehensive. Sponsoring a recreational sports team does not qualify as a comprehensive wellness program. If you run one weight loss challenge, you do not have a comprehensive wellness program. If you have a speaker come in for lunch, to speak about stress management…you still do not have a comprehensive wellness program. What you do have is many one-hit wonders. A comprehensive wellness program is, well, comprehensive. To achieve maximum return, it should be composed of at least four components; as follows:
Why do you need these four? Because these four components support your cause and will lead to an effective plan. Awareness supports education, education supports lifestyle and behavior change, and environment/policy change emphasizes your support and dedication to the cause and helps to reinforce healthy behaviors.
What about data? You are correct, data is very important to wellness programs. However, what the industry has seen is an increased emphasis on data gathering and a lack of action. Insurance companies push the importance of biometric screenings and health risk assessments, two very useful tools for wellness programs. Additionally, companies often celebrate their participation rates within these two tools. Realistically, these two assessments are just tools. Again, these are not wellness programs. Components of a wellness program? Yes. Useful tools for establishing priorities and benchmarking? Yes. Are they going to create change that will better your employees and drive your bottom line? No.
Using data as a method to benchmark year to year progress is essential to your wellness program. Creating or using a pre-made wellness portal to collect data and add accountability to your program also a great way to integrate data collection into your wellness program. Some software takes it further and uses user provided data to incentivize participants to complete healthy activities which is great! The point is, data is valuable when it is actionable and acted on. Yearly biometric screenings and HRA’s mean nothing without programs to support them.
Why onsite health coaches? Wendell Berry once wrote:
“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other”
Sure, wellness programs can be run remotely however, history supports the relationship between one-on-one and group support. AA, Weight Watchers, NA; all groups that meet in person to support each other. Why? Because there is an element of face to face human interaction which is irreplaceable. It can be substituted, but to a less effective end. Insurance providers typically opt for programs which are more convenient and less expensive; telephone meetings, online-videos, etc. The truth is it’s better than nothing, but who wants that? Employers that care about their employees are investing the extra money in their health. More importantly, the insurance companies that are selling the cheap version to their clients are providing industry leading support for their own staff. Travelers Insurance (NYSE: TRV) located in Hartford, not only has an onsite wellness center with a massage therapist, chiropractor, nurse, physical therapist, but also a running club and cycling club. The Hartford Financial Group (NYSE: HIG) has an onsite staffed fitness center. Both of these companies recognize the importance of human interaction in their wellness programs.
Where does your wellness program stand? Is it comprehensive or faux comprehensive? Chances are if you’re running a cold wellness program, you’re simply acting cold towards it.